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9 Smart Ways to Maximize Your Tax Refund

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #YourCashTax #CollectiveBias

This is the time of year some families eagerly look forward to, while others dread it, tax season!  Years ago when I was working in retail, it was very evident when the refunds would start rolling in.  Families would shop and spend money like it was as simple as picking it off a tree.  If only it were really that easy, right?

If you are expecting a refund this year, before you spend it, why not consider what would be best for your family’s finances and make the most of the money you receive back!

1. Start an emergency fund – If you don’t have one started already, now is the time!  It is suggested that we have an emergency fund with a minimum of three full months of bills set aside.  My family is currently working on rebuilding our emergency fund and getting a refund is a great way to give it a big boost without it hurting our monthly budget.

2. Pay down debt – Sadly most of us have some form of debt.  We may whittle away at it slowly each month but seeing a big decrease at once it exciting and helps us focus on paying down what debt we have.  One year we almost had our first mortgage in our first house paid for and with a decent size refund, we were able to send a check in for the full balance remaining!  It was SO exciting.

3. Car or home maintenance – It’s not always a fun way to spend money but many times we put off repairs and in the long run it costs us much more than the initial repair would have.  A simple leak not fixed can lead to mold, balding tires can lead to a blow out.  Even regular maintenance on our vehicles can cost a good amount, but preventative maintenance is usually far less than having to pay for repairs due to lack of maintenance.  Invest in those new tires you desperately need or schedule that tune-up.

4 Add to your 401k or Retirement Fund – If you already have a retirement account or 401k, why not think about adding to it?  Most people don’t maximize the full amounts they can contribute and adding to it may result in a tax break when it is time to file next year.

5. Start a side business – This isn’t necessarily smart if it isn’t something you have previously thought about.  Most side businesses can start with a small investment and can be profitable with hard work in a small amount of time.

6. Self-Care – Even with insurance many of us pay a decent amount out-of-pocket for medical expenses.  If you have been putting off a needed visit, a trip to the dentist or optometrist, make yourself a priority!  For myself, I will be heading to the eye doctor this month to renew my prescription and purchase new eye glasses.

7. College Fund – If you plan to send your children or grandchildren to college, consider starting a 529 plan.  You will get a deduction and have a nest egg when it comes time to send your kiddos to college.

8. Invest in memories – Every time I see the quote, “You can always make more money, you can’t make more time for memories” it hits home with me.  Not that we want to throw money away by any means but making memories during the time we have with our loved ones.  I’m not advocating spending your full refund for a vacation when you are deeply in debt, but maybe you don’t have any wiggle room in your budget for a getaway during the year, treat yourself with a portion of your refund.  Investing in memories can lead to long-term memories and happiness.

9. Pre-pay annual expenses – This is usually where a good chunk of our past refunds have been put.  We take the opportunity to pay annual expenses such as homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, prepay our heating source for the coming winter, pay personal property taxes, life insurance…you get the idea.  It makes our monthly bills so much easier to manage because we pre-pay so many big expenses at the beginning of the year.  If you don’t have many of these expenses, consider putting aside six months of your cell phone bills.

Being self-employed, our refund isn’t as large as it has been in the past, but we did still get a nice refund this year.  Over the last several years I have had the opportunity to test out several of the phones from Walmart Family Mobile.  The Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan is perfect for families. With it’s Unlimited* Talk, Text, & Data, it really helps my family stay on budget every month (*Includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE† data then 2G).

The 10 GB of 4G LTE data is a huge upgrade!  Who can complain with greater speed and lots more of it?  We will be on the road a lot over the next few months and into summer and I love that I can be connected without worrying about my data being cut off.  When we are home, I always have the wifi on my phone turned on because my little man loves to watch videos.  He is only 17 months old but he knows exactly how to work my phone to get to the apps that play Mickey Mouse + his favorite Caleb and Sophia videos.

Walmart Family Mobile Plus Plan = Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data which includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE then 2G plus a free VUDU movie credit every month ($7 value) per line for $49.88.  It is an awesome deal!

I am a huge Samsung phone fan and am trying out the Samsung Galaxy On5 from Walmart that has a regular price of $119.00 but is on rollback for $69.00!  It has all of my favorite features and the kids love that it is similar to the other Samsung phones I’ve had.  Since Family Mobile bills you later, you only have to pay $19.88 for the SIM kit when you sign up to get your service started.

The VUDU free monthly movie credit has a $7 value, the same as a new release rental.  It will give us a fun opportunity to have a free family movie night.

So before you head out to blow that extra money, sit back and think about how long it takes for you to earn that amount of money. These are a few great ways to really maximize your tax return.  What would be the best way for you personally to maximum your tax refund?

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/7e-jr or your local Walmart for current pricing.